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what educational level is required for culinary arts?

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Kenji’s Answer

I had university studies finishing with a BA but moved into kitchen afterwards kind of accidentally. In those days those cooks that had NOT gone to culinary school tended to have the edge in experience and the perception from non-culinary school staff was that it seemed odd to pay a lot for school and then necessarily start at the bottom as is quite the requirement for becoming a culinary "artist."

In all other hospitality school areas the students do come out of school and go directly to asst manager or supevrisor - being fast tracked to becoming high grade employees sooner. (Stewards, FOH staff).

That being said times change and now it seems the culinary grads do have the edge. One reason they have the edge is more broad knowlege base. Learning on the job can be limited. While learning and practicing intensely in one model of service and product delivery, one may miss many other areas of kitchen knowledge. You would have to get another experience to fill the gaps or be very diligent at home experimenting and filling in the gaps.

I can say that the teachers at a good school could have a profound effect of the level of understanding a student could develop, as much so as the effect of a great on the job mentor at work. So rather than focus on level of education or degree look for the school which extrude students more often than not accepted into top creative restaurants. You need personal input from great culinarians to become one -- more than you need the actual degree.

What I see developed is also a strong preference for accreditation of chefs in the Institutional Catering fields. I consider it would be a good idea to get that out of the way early as it will help a lot in transitioning eventually from restaurant cheffing to say industrial commercial gigs which there are many.

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James’s Answer

The education requirements for most culinary schools is around 3.0 at the highest GPA needed to get in. That being said many will accept lower than that depending on the school.

Culinary schooling can consist of anything from a 1 year certificate to a full on Bachelor Degree.

That being said, it is also possible to become an experienced and successful chef or pastry chef without culinary school. I have worked with and under several chefs that had no schooling but worked their way up over the years.

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Melodie’s Answer

It depends on the position. There are many amazing Certification, Associates, and Bachelors programs in Culinary Arts both private and public opportunities. Le Cordon Bleu, for example, has an amazing reputation for a private school. However, there are also impressive chefs that come right out of culinary arts programs in community colleges.
You must first determine the type of chef you want to be and what genre/style cuisine you are most interested in learning...then research the schools that have those programs. Once accepted into a program, reach out to restaurants whom you wish to learn from and inquire about apprenticeship/externship opportunities available. Best of luck to you!

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Priya’s Answer

For degreed professionals, the employment landscape within the hospitality industry is vital and varied. Chefs can climb to prominent positions as supervisors and chef/managers within the kitchen, but management roles throughout the industry are also filled by professional chefs. An Associate’s or Bachelor’s would give you a solid trajectory toward any of these jobs.

Executive Chef
Sous Chef
Banquet Chef
Pastry Chef
Food Production Manager
Purchasing Manager
Private Club and Resort Manager
Institutional Food Service
Contract Food Service
Dietary Manager
Food and Beverage Director
Catering Director

Hope this helps!

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Sandra’s Answer

It all depends on what your aspiration is in the culinary world I would say. I have some friends who are now head chefs in some main dining locations in the Minneapolis area that did not go to Culinary school but started as a dishwasher in high school and opted for the hard work and taking every opportunity to learn from those willing to teach and move up through the ranks that way.

I also have friends that have gone through multiple years of culinary schooling and Le Cordon Bleu to excel and move up more quickly or start higher up (hopefully).

My suggestion would be to get a job in a restaurant while in high school, jump at every opportunity to learn every aspect of the restaurant business as you can. Then head to a college that offers some type of culinary training, continue to work in different restaurants and different styles of restaurants to get more and more knowledge and experience. From there you will be better able to determine what the natural next step for you will be. You may even find that if you find the right restaurant/business they can help you with paying for your schooling in exchange for an agreement to continue working with them for a time period, etc.